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There’s a Reason it’s Cheap: A Review of Thanksgiving Dinner at "Hometown Buffet"

Updated on November 23, 2012

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

Although I eat healthy and watch how many calories go into my body, Thanksgiving has always been a day to indulge in gustatory passions. This was one of the few times that the holiday neither put us abroad nor granted us an invite with friends and family. So my partner and I decided to try a feast at a restaurant.

My Rating

1 star for Hometown Buffet Thanksgiving

Enough eateries offered Thanksgiving meals at $50 a plate and above. In my mind, the only thing that would justify that amount would be a free pet bird. Since no such gift was forthcoming from any of the expensive buffets, we settled on the more reasonable $13.99 all-you-can-eat option at Hometown Buffet, with drinks at $1.50 extra. We knew what to expect because we’d had good experiences there with their ribs and sausages.


We went to the closest East Anaheim, California branch, although the franchise boasts eateries in all states, sometimes under different names like Ryan’s or Old Country Buffet. Typical for the restaurant, this location boasted high ceilings and well-arranged tables and booths fronting salad, carving, entry and dessert stations. Though the buffet was well-attended, it was far from full, allowing the buss staff to keep the environment presentable and to clear tables quickly.


The centerpiece of this Thanksgiving feast was the turkey, cheerfully attended to by a carver. The dish looked nothing like any bird I’d ever seen. It consisted of an oblong chunk a little bigger than a basketball covered in caramel-colored skin that showed no remains of any limbs. The interior meat had a smooth, even, white and dry texture.

I passed on this unappetizing selection in favor of the roast beef and the steak, which showed more pleasing exteriors. The former’s moist, glistening skin blanketed a juicy interior, while the latter was marked with dark stripes of a grill. I asked for slices of fat, knowing these would be the tastiest part of the beef. Unfortunately, both choices proved tasteless and dry.

The pumpkin pie’s shrunken and chalky appearance repelled me and there was no trace of any cranberry sauce. Only two Thanksgiving selections proved delicious. The candied yams and the stuffing revealed nice textures and good taste. However, I wondered where the honey was in the flavorless cornbread. The jalapeno cornbread tasted better with just a hint of the pepper.


The generally flavorless buffet, which included fish filets, pizza, roast and fried chicken, meat loaf and garlic bread, did have a few standouts.

  • The salad fixings were fresh, with crisp vegetables and ripe fruits.
  • Covered in golden, crispy skin, the fried chicken showed a juicy interior.
  • The turtle brownies tasted gooey and good, and I topped them with dollops of sweet frozen vanilla yogurt. My partner enjoyed the soft bread pudding, as well as the delicious hot fudge sundae cake.

Unfortunately, our favorite pork ribs, polish sausage and sauerkraut, and spare ribs, were nowhere in sight.

Bottom Line

Despite the low prices and large quantities, Hometown Buffet was not any kind of a value for Thanksgiving. Its selections left us both with a hunger that could only be satisfied by cooking another meal at home, and we even went to another restaurant for dessert. The experienced has permanently soured us on the franchise and we won’t be returning for any future meals.


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    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      I think the buffet type restaurants are only to get full quickly - I don't expect to go there to really enjoy my meal. We have several of those types of restaurants nearby, but we don't go there. Sorry about your Thanksgiving experience. I wish you better meals in the future!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      6 years ago from USA

      Oh, that's too bad about your Thanksgiving dinner being "ruined" by Hometown Buffet. But, hey... thanks for the warning. I know where not to go if I should ever need a good Thanksgiving day meal. In spite of the somewhat negative experience, you wrote an excellent review.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      That sounds awful! we have a Forrester over here and it is just as bad! I never go there now, the food tastes like cardboard! lol!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      Yuck! We don't have that franchise here in Florida, but we have Golden Corral. My son loves it; I hate it. Everything's flavorless, fried and/or mushy. But then again, what can you expect from a restaurant that feeds hundreds at a time?

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

      Well...Hometown Buffet: good for a Tuesday night when you're drop-dead tired. Thanksgiving? Hehe...I'm thinking nice for truck drivers who'd rather be home. Your hub made me smile...only because I can just imagine the look on your face as you tried some of the turkey....

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 

      6 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear alocsin,

      I always hesitate to criticise food in another country as in many cases it is down to custom and local taste. However there is a huge void between English taste and American. English food is often reported as boring with small portions and, of course each to their own. In the many, many trips I have made to the USA from Canada to Louisiana, I have found the food dry and over sweetened & much too big. The only place I have had good food is Chicago (steaks) and New Orleans (po boys).

      As I said at the beginning taste is very much a local thing and there would be no fun traveling if the food all tasted the same.

      Kind regards Peter

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      This is precisely why I don't like buffets they get your money and you get much of nothing. We don't have this chain in NC but it sounds similar enough to other "Down Home" type buffets I've been to. This is a good review but definitely gives incentive not to go. Voted up, useful, and interesting!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Wow, this sounds like an etxtremely disappointing Thanksgiving dinner. You must have been really upset at the selections and how they looked.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      6 years ago from USA

      Howdy alocsin - On my several trips into Orange County, California in past years, I never did hit your "Hometown Buffet" for eats, but there have been many times that I have eaten at "Ryans Family Steakhouse" here in Texas (which you said was a restaurant in the same organization as "Hometown." Never did have a bad feed at "Ryans." My bride likes to eat there, too, for she can "graze" the buffet to her heart's (and liver's) content. The cure - move to Texas. :-)

      Gus :-)))

    • tammyswallow profile image


      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Yikes! If I am ever in the neighborhood I will avoid that place. I am not a big fan of buffets. The food is usually so-so and I eat too much. Thanks for the heads up!

    • lifetips123 profile image

      Praveen P.V. Nair 

      6 years ago from Trivandrum

      hi brother alocsin, it is indeed the truth regarding wat u said about buffet. keep in touch. voted up and awesome :)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Great review! Pleased with the details of likes and dislikes. Only sorry that the meal did not satisfy you and glad that you can cook. Still something to give thanks for.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Voted up, interesting. We do not have this franchise here in India so there's no way I could taste their stuff.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      Sorry you had such a bad experience, Alocsin. I would have just eaten the brownies and left. Well, chalk it up as experience and as you say, don't return.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Las Vegas....sure.....why not? If you're gonna spend lots of cash....why not LOSE some too?

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      6 years ago from California Gold Country

      I used to live very near that particular HB-- when it first opened. It wasn't too bad then, but your review would not entice me back.

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      The buffets in Las Vegas are generally consistently good, fpherj48. Maybe we should've gone there for Thanksgiving.

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I've actually never eaten at Cracker Barrel, vespawoolf, and there are several branches nearby. I'll give them a try. Thanks.

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Carol7777, I consoled myself with big dollops of delicious frozen yogurt at Yogurtland, which proved to be delicious.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      LOL....I love your comment about the $50.00 meal price....but I'd expect more than just the about cage, food and 10 weeks of training to make the bird talk? $50.00? I would have done what you did.

      We have this franchise here, but they are "Old Country Buffet." Never went, but have talked about going. Thanks to you, we won't bother.

      Buffets are tricky, aren't they? Finding a really good quality buffet establishment, that has consistently excellent, fresh and well-prepared foods, is an art form. Once you find one, you stay with it!.....Good review, Alocsin...although I'm sorry to hear you didn't fully enjoy your meal.....OH you know. UP+++

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 

      6 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      I hate all you can eat buffets. No matter what kind they are, I get full to fast and end up losing money.

    • vespawoolf profile image


      6 years ago from Peru, South America

      I'm sorry your experience was so dismal. My father, in the same situation as you and your partner, decided to dine at Cracker Barrel with my sister. He was pleased with the dinner. He's quite the connoisseur, so maybe that would be a better option next time.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have to say you were very mindful of where you were on Thanksgiving. I felt like I was in the room with you feasting on nothing more than turtle brownies! It was nice to see a different side of you in your writing.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Doesn't sound like a very good Thanksgiving dinner. Especially the turkey which you expect to look and taste good...that is more than half the battle. Sorry it wasn't so good especially since it is your big splurge day.


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